Horses To Follow » Val De Ferbet

Val De Ferbet

Val De Ferbet put up a really nice performance to win the three-mile beginners’ chase at Fairyhouse on Saturday. Settled towards the rear of the field and on the inside through the early stages of the race by Ruby Walsh, his jumping was really good throughout. He approached his obstacles with enthusiasm and made lengths on his rivals over several of them. The net result was that he was disputing the lead as they raced up past the stands with a circuit to go. Still disputing the lead on the run around the home turn, Ruby gave him a squeeze on the run to the second last fence and another good jump there, together with Thunder And Roses’ fall, meant that he was suddenly about six lengths clear and still on the bridle on the run to the last. He did get in a little tight at the last, and that gave favourite Noble Emperor a sliver of hope, but Willie Mullins’ horse found plenty when his rider went for him, keeping on well to win by over three lengths, with the front three well clear.

This was a good beginners’ chase. Thunder And Roses was rated 135 at his peak as a hurdler last season, and had run well in two runs over fences this term, while Noble Emperor won his bumper and his maiden hurdle last spring, and is a highly-regarded horse who shaped well on his chasing bow at Fairyhouse’s Hatton’s Grace Hurdle meeting at the end of November. That said, it was the visual impression of the winner’s performance that was most noteworthy. He jumped with such enthusiasm and with such accuracy that his rider was able to take a tug on landing, thereby conserving energy. He met just about every one of his obstacles on a perfect stride, and he was fast and fluent over each one. That is obviously a massive asset in novice company.

This was his first chase. He won a hurdle race in France last December, and he ran in two hurdle races last spring for Willie Mullins. Sent off as favourite on his Irish debut at Limerick last March, he travelled well for much of the race, but stopped suddenly when he came under pressure on the heavy ground at the second last flight. He shaped a lot better on better ground at the Punchestown Festival in April over two and a half miles.

Chasing is obviously his game, he is such a good jumper. It may be that he does not possess too many gears, and it is notable that he was caught out by very soft ground in that race at Limerick last season, but he stays well and he handled soft ground well on Saturday. He could improve for a step up in trip even from three miles, perhaps combined with better ground. His jumping will always be an asset, especially in novice company this season, and it may be that he could be a horse for one of the big staying handicap chases in the spring.

20th December 2014